Trader shoots himself at Brazil financial exchange

SAO PAULO, Nov 17 (Reuters) - A Brazilian trader shot himself on Monday in the open outcry pit of Sao Paulo’s commodities and futures exchange in an apparent suicide attempt, the exchange said.

Paulo Sergio Silva, 36, a trader for the brokerage arm of Brazilian banking giant Itau ITAU4.SAITU.N, shot himself in the chest during the afternoon trading session, the exchange said, and hospital staff said he was in critical condition.

Silva was given first aid on the scene before being transported to the hospital, BM&F Bovespa SA BVMF3.SA, which operates the exchange, said in a statement without providing further details.

Traders said the incident happened in the interest rate futures pit, a raucous circle where on average $21 billion worth of contracts exchange hands every day.

Brazil’s financial markets have taken a pounding in recent months as the global credit crunch has spread, causing massive losses for investors and companies alike.

Brazil's main stock index, the Bovespa .BVSP, has plunged more than 50 percent since hitting an all-time high in late May. The local currency, the real BRBY, has shed a third of its value since touching a nine-year high in early August.

Reporting by Daniela Machado and Filipe Pacheco, Writing by Todd Benson; Editing by Eric Beech